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Full text of "My Country And My People"

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human form, and even an artist like Ch'iu Shihchou (Ming
Period), famous for his paintings of female life, shows the upper
part of the female nude form very much like a potato. Few
Chinese, unversed in Western art, can tell the beauty of a
woman's neck or of a woman's back. The Tsashih Pishin, a work
ascribed to the Han Dynasty but really belonging to the Ming
Period, gave a fairly good account of the perfect female nude
body, showing a real delight in its form as such, but it is
almost the only exception. This is one result of the seclusion
of women.

As a matter of fact, these changes of fashion do not matter.
Women's costumes will change, and men will admire them as
long as they are worn by women, and women will wear them
as long as men think them beautiful. The change from the
Victorian crinoline and farthingale to the slim boyish figure of
the early twentieth century and on to the Mae West craze of
1935 ^s actually more striking than the difference between the
Chinese and foreign women's dress. As long as women wear
it, it is always divine for men. An international pageant of
women's dress ought to make this point sufficiently clear. Only
a decade ago Chinese women paraded the streets in trousers and
to-day they are floating in long gowns covering the ankles,
while women in the West are wearing skirts, but the trousered
pyjama has every possibility of coming into fashion. The only
effect such changes give is that it engenders in men a broad

What is of far more importance is the connection between
women's seclusion and the ideal of womanhood. That ideal
is the ideal of a "helpful wife and wise mother," a phrase very
much held up to ridicule in modern China, especially by those
modern women who desire above all "equality," "indepen-
dence," "self-expression" and who regard wives and mothers
as dependent upon men, representing thus a typical confusion
of ideas.

Let us get the sexual relationships straight. It seems that a
woman, when she becomes a mother, never thinks of her
position as "dependent" on the pleasure of her husband. It
is only when she ceases to be a mother that she feels her utter
dependence. There was a time even in the West when mother-